(HealthDay News) — The flu is starting to tighten its grip on much of the United States, particularly in the South and Midwest, according to a report published in the December 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. And more than half of the flu infections examined so far have been caused by influenza A H3N2, which appears to have mutated from the H3N2 strain included in this year’s flu vaccine.
The authors of the report note that for the week ending December 6, widespread flu activity was reported in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
The mutated strain has federal officials concerned because the vaccine may not offer the protection seen in seasons when the vaccine is a better match. Still, health officials are urging that everyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated, because the vaccine will offer some protection, especially for strains that might become more widespread as the flu season progresses.
“Vaccination is our most effective means to prevent influenza and its complications,” Melissa Rolfes, PhD, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, told HealthDay. “We encourage everybody over the age of 6 months to get vaccinated.”